Amazon Closing Its AmazonSmile Charitable Giving Program
In some bad news for Amazon customers and non-profit organizations alike, the online retail giant has announced that it’s ending its AmazonSmile service. According to an email sent to customers, the program will be wound down by February 20th. Instead, the company says it will focus on some of its other philanthropic efforts including its Housing Equity Fund, its Community Delivery Program, Amazon Disaster Relief, and more along with continuing various community giving.
Explaining their decision, Amazon wrote, “[A]fter almost a decade, the program has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped. With so many eligible organizations — more than 1 million globally — our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin.”
Launched in 2013, AmazonSmile was a platform that enabled shoppers to support their favorite charities with their Amazon purchases. Customers could select an eligible non-profit organization and support them when they shopped via Smile.Amazon.com. Specifically, the company would donate 0.5% of Smile-enabled purchases with no impact on pricing or product for shoppers. As of December 2022, United States charities have reportedly received more than $400 million from the AmazonSmile program while the worldwide total neared $450 million.
When the program is discontinued, Amazon says it will be supporting charities by donating the equivalent of what they typically earned from the platform over the course of three months (based on 2022 figures). Meanwhile, they suggest that organizations can create their own Wish Lists for Amazon shoppers who want to continue helping their efforts in a different way.
Although the AmazonSmile service is ending, there are still ways that consumers can support charitable organizations by shopping online. For example, the popular cashback portal Rakuten offers a Cash Back for Change program where customers can donate a portion of their earned rewards to select organizations. Similarly, another cashback app called Dosh includes a donation option among its redemptions. Elsewhere, several airlines and hotel groups have charitable donation initiatives for their loyalty points and miles customers.
Despite AmazonSmile seemingly not living up to its potential, the platform will surely be missed by the organizations that saw support from it and the customers who enjoyed helping their favorite charities in a convenient way. Furthermore, while this may be the first time that some shoppers are hearing about AmazonSmile, that likely won’t stop the company from receiving blowback over this decision.
Meanwhile, non-profits that did previously depend on AmazonSmile funds might consider joining the Associate’s Program instead. Unfortunately, this option will require supporters to click specific links — making it slightly more cumbersome than the Smile site — but it could still be a good opportunity. Hopefully this potential solution coupled with efforts of other FinTechs and platforms to make charitable giving easier for consumers will help pick up the slack that Smile’s departure will leave.